Life on Indian Reservations

Life on Indian reservations can be hard, leaving residents feeling hopeless and in despair. Life in a city can do the same. So can life in the suburbs and in small country towns.

It’s true life on Indian reservations presents its own unique set of challenges and strife. Poverty can be a pervasive problem that is very difficult to deal with on a long-term basis. One reservation, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Shannon County, South Dakota, is often cited in government statistics as being one of the poorest counties in the nation.

Other times, life on Indian reservations isn’t quite so bleak. Often geography has a big role to play in quality of life.

Reservations were originally situated on land that the white people didn’t want. Poor soil, remote locations, or any number of undesirable conditions went into play when reservation locations were established. We can’t undo that.

Job opportunities can be scarce, especially on reservations that are too far to commute to lucrative jobs in a city. For others who live near cities, life on Indian reservations may not be so distressing.

There was once hope that the legalization of gambling casinos would bring about improvements in the quality of life on Indian reservations and, in some places, it’s working. In other places, it’s not.

Sometimes you can open a restaurant in the middle of a great big city and it works but sometimes it doesn’t. These issues of business success and struggle are felt everywhere.

For Native Americans who live at or near tourist destinations, life on Indian reservations isn’t as depressing as it is in other places. Tourists bring good income and tourists traveling to or through Indian reservations almost always want to buy something made in the traditional way. Things unique to the reservation. Things they’ll never find in the mall back home.

Life can be tough no matter where you live. It may help to imagine a person just like you, facing the same issues and challenges you face, experiencing the same health and money crises, the same heartbreak, the same fear for the future. Only this mirror image of you lives in the heart of a major city. Downtown. Crowded, loud, dirty, crime-ridden, and covered in concrete as far as the eye can see.

Remember always that this person would gladly trade places if given half the chance.